The 205,723 federal inmates across the U.S. can say goodbye to bacon and ham: federal prisons are no longer serving pork.
The menu switch, which went into effect Oct. 1, comes after inmate surveys showed prisoners just didn't like pork. “Pork has been the lowest-rated food by inmates for several years,” Edmond Ross, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Prisons, told the Washington Post. “Why keep pushing food that people don’t want to eat?” Pork products also got more expensive, he said, and more inmates want to eat healthily.
While Ohio prisons removed pork from their menu in 2011 after a lawsuit by Muslim inmates, the federal decision didn't have to do with prisoners' religions, Ross said. Besides, observant Muslim or Jewish prisoners are already given dietary accommodations that don't include pork.
"In general, we welcome the change because it’s facilitating the accommodation of Muslim inmates,” Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the Post, although he predicted that the change would "stoke the fires of Islamophobia based on the usual conspiracy theories.”
Hooper was right: conservatives—who are usually supportive of efforts to cut the pork in Washington—aren't buying the official explanation. "Their decision just happens to coincide with Sharia at a time when the Obama Administration and Islamic advocacy groups are actively working in numerous fields to make special accommodation for Islamic laws and mores," observed a blog called "Jihad Watch."
"We have a President that has difficulty in hiding his allegiance to Islam… it seems less like a conspiracy theory and more like a conspiracy fact," argued a writer for DownTrend.com.
"New Pork Ban In Federal Prisons Is Totally Unrelated To Muslims. Inmates Just Suddenly HATE BACON" the Daily Caller declared sarcastically.
Inmates will still be able to buy some pork products at the commissary with their own money. Turkey bacon will also be available. Here's the full, porkless daily menu for prisoners this year:
Right-wingers aren't the only ones miffed by the menu switch—the National Pork Producers Council, an industry group, is hoping to convince the Bureau of Prisons to overturn the decision. Council spokesperson Dave Warner told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which first reported the change, that pork products aren't that expensive or unhealthy.
“For people who are incarcerated, we understand that they’re denied certain rights and freedoms but we don’t think bacon should be one of them,” he said.
Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.